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Men’s Water Polo meets some tough competition at the Annapolis Tournament

Men's Water Polo on waiting to play on the east coast

(Annapolis. MD) For the second year in a row, the Mt. SAC Men's Water Polo team traveled to an opening-season tournament and faced some of the top universities in Annapolis, Maryland on Saturday and Sunday (September 3, 4).

The Mounties, who traveled to The Air Force Academy Tournament (2021) in Colorado Springs, opened their season with four games in two days at the Naval Academy against Salem University, Bucknell University, George Washington University and Mount St. Mary's University.

Bucknell and George Washington are ranked in the top 25 in the NCAA Men's preseason Poll and in the top five in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Conference.

"We did have some good games, all things considered," said Mt. SAC Men's Water Polo coach Marc Ruh, who has had his teams travel back east the last few years.

They last played in the Naval Academy tournament in 2015.

"We are very young compared to the teams we played," Ruh added. "It is always an honor to be invited to play there. It gives our kids the opportunity to be seen by some top-end colleges and play against top-end talent. It is a great start to the year."

It was no doubt an experience for the Mountie players with the tough competition, but they still held their own.

Mt. SAC lost to Salem, 19-15, and Mt. St. Mary's, 16-11, but were competitive the whole game.

"We really bonded as a team, and I think we accomplished everything we had," Ruh said. "We really felt like we had a chance to win our games against Salem and Mt. St. Mary's, but we continued to make some mistakes that we just could not correct in live game time."

Leading the way against Salem was freshman utility Brandon Fabrega with a game-high eight goals on 12 shots. Sophomore 2-Meter Aidan Murphy added four goals on six attempts.

The Mounties got single goals from Edward (EJ) Lynch, Jude Solis and Trevor Ingersoll.

With over six minutes remaining in the game and the Mounties trailing, 17-10, they went on a late 5-2 run but fell short by four goals.

In the, 16-11 loss to St. Mary's, Lynch and Murphy scored four and three goals, respectively.

"No better way to learn than to fail a few times and we will try to make those corrections and recover in our upcoming games this week," Ruh said.

Mt. SAC returns home for a game against Caltech on Wednesday (Sept. 7) and travels to Riverside City College for a mini tourney against host RCC and plays Ottawa University of Arizona in the afternoon. Both games are on Friday (Sept. 9).

The Mounties travel to San Jose and will play West Valley and Cabrillo in the Nyquist Invitational on Saturday (Sept. 10).

In the other two games at the Naval Academy Tournament, the Mounties lost to George Washington, 21-5 and Bucknell, 18-7.

Murphy led again for the Mounties with two goals against George Washington and Fabrega scored three in the Bucknell game.

"The big stories for us, were Brandon (Fabrega) playing so well and (goalie) Noah Stark," Ruh said. "In the goal, even though we gave up a ton of goals, and a ton of penalty shots, Noah stopped five penalty shots for us," Ruh added. "That is almost unheard of - first giving up that many as a team, but also stopping that many. I think Noah was at about 45% on saves in penalty shots. That is very impressive."

Mt. SAC will play five games in the next four days.

"All-in-all, it was a great trip," said Ruh of the travels. "We will see how we can put it to use this week and beyond."